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Volkswagen to pay $4.3B to resolve civil and criminal investigations

This is a separate settlement that isn't related to the class-action suits for 2.0-liter and 3.0-liter diesels.

Light eminating from a Volkswagen logo at a car dealership in Stockport, Greater Manchester, England, United Kingdom, on Monday 11th January 2016. (Photo by Jonathan Nicholson/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto/Getty Images

Volkswagen's ready to cut yet another big check.

The German automaker confirmed Wednesday that it has reached a $4.3 billion settlement with the US government. As part of the agreement, the company will plead guilty to criminal misconduct for willingly selling diesel vehicles that polluted in excess of federal regulations.

I doubt it will pay its fines in large novelty checks, but you never know.

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

VW's board must still approve the settlement agreement, but that's likely to happen very soon. If the agreement isn't set in stone by the time the Trump administration takes over, it'll have to start all over again. Volkswagen believes the approval could happen as early as today or tomorrow.

Dieselgate is an expensive screw-up. The automaker already agreed to $17.5 billion in class-action settlements, which required a mix of vehicle buybacks and fixes. Most recently, it agreed to a series of buybacks and fixes for 3.0-liter diesel vehicles. The government hasn't yet approved all the fixes, so things could change if regulators can't agree with what Volkswagen offers.

Volkswagen ended up in this whole mess by thinking it could outsmart the public. Its 2.0-liter diesels contained software that could tell when the car was in a lab environment, and it would purposefully cut emissions to pass federal tests. When the cars hit the road, the software permitted the vehicles to pollute above that level.

As part of its effort to put its diesel malfeasances behind it, Volkswagen dove headfirst into electric vehicles. It unveiled two concepts this year, both built on a new platform specifically for future electric vehicles. Volkswagen estimates it will unveil more than two dozen EVs across its various brands within a decade.

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